The wave of media attention surrounding the recent rash of teen suicides due to bullying may be disguising something equally important: the impact of the suicide on surviving loved ones.
The grieving process is challenging enough without adding unnecessary suffering in the form of regret, remorse and guilt. This often occurs when loved ones falsely believe they could have or should have been able to prevent the suicide—a common reaction, especially for parents, who are hard-wired to protect their children. These feelings can lead to intense, prolonged and unnecessary suffering during a time when those who are grieving need to be especially gentle and compassionate with themselves.
Wednesday, Oct. 20 was Spirit Day, a nationally designated observance during which people wore purple clothing to honor and commemorate the number of gay teens who recently committed suicide in the United States. I am grateful for this positive collective response.
Our society’s discomfort with the subject of dying can keep survivors from processing their feelings in a healthy manner. Suicide itself is such a cultural taboo that it puts even more pressure on mourners to remain silent about the rollercoaster of emotions they may be experiencing. Add to that the accompanying religious judgment and condemnation of those who’ve committed suicide, and a healthy grieving process becomes all the more challenging.
In Conversations With Jerry and Other People I Thought Were Dead, I speak with seven loved ones who’ve died. Of special note are the dialogues with Bill, a friend who, in his thirties, committed suicide. These dialogues do more than simply help us understand why someone would choose this option; they provide a spiritual perspective that allows us to gain deeper insight so that we may process the experience with loving compassion.
Claudia Pemberton, who reviewed the book for US Review of Books, wrote, "Kendig strikes gold while digging for answers about life from those who have lived, died, and are now ‘living on.' Some of the revelations are startling, some are simple, some are complex, some are transforming, and some are comforting, while others are controversial and difficult to fathom. Almost every page of this book has profound insights.”
To read an excerpt and/or purchase a copy http://www.conversationswithjerry.com